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Publisher's Summary

Vclav Havel was one of the most prominent figures of the 20th century: iconoclast and intellectual, renowned playwright turned political dissident, president of a united then divided nation, and dedicated human rights activist. Written by Michael Zantovsky, Havel's former press secretary, advisor, and longtime friend, Havel: A Life presents a revelatory portrait of this giant among men and the turbulent times through which he prevailed. Havel's lifelong perspective as an outsider began with his privileged childhood in Prague and his family's blacklisted status following the Communist coup of 1948. This feeling of being outcast fueled his career as an essayist and dramatist, writing absurdist plays as social commentary. His involvement during the Prague Spring and his leadership of Charter 77, his unflagging belief in the power of the powerless, and his galvanizing personality catapulted Havel into a pivotal role as the leader of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Although Havel was a courageous visionary, he was also a man of great contradictions, wracked with doubt and self-criticism. But he always remained true to himself. Over the next 13 years, he continued to break through international barriers as the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic.

©2014 Michael Zantovsky. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story of a great man

the book is long and needs more verbal expression than the reader is given time to perform. it helps if you know Havel's work. if not, hopefully this book will inspire you to read him. he was my hero for more than 30 years. this volume does his life justice. but the world today needs Havel now almost more than ever before. the book reminds us that the times are very sad because humanity is too tired, too exhausted to soldier on. no one it seems is capable of or interested in living in truth.

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  • Michele
  • Chatham, MA United States
  • 02-08-16

Great book, terrible reader.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

This is great biography, I got the audio version to be able to listen and read. The reading was terrible. I couldn't listen to it for long although I tried many times. The performer used a sing songy voice and was terrible with any of the Czech words. A waste of money.

What did you like best about this story?

The biography was fantastic, when I finally read it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Terrible voice, sing songy, did not learn to pronounce even the most basic Czech words.

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Superb bio; mediocre narrator

This biography of Havel is in my judgment the most accessible and best to date. Certainly the best of those available in English.

While the narrator was generally competent, he absolutely butchered the Czech-language names and phrases throughout the entire book. I consider it unprofessional that the narrator did not bother to learn how to pronounce Czech words properly.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful